Simba Beer’s ‘Craft’ Masters
Prabhtej Singh Bhatia, Ishwaraj Singh Bhatia,Co-founder and CEO, Simba Beer; Co-founder and COO, Simba Beer
The Bhatia family has been in the alcohol distribution business for decades. The Bhatia cousins’ (Prabhtej and Ishwaraj’s) grandfather, who came to India during the partition, ran a liquor shop, which expanded into a distribution business over the years. The idea of manufacturing craft beer in India came to Prabhtej while studying in England. “People did not want to drink what their fathers used to drink, they wanted new products, new taste, new variety,” says the co-founder and CEO of Simba Beer.
While studying in Exeter College in the U.K., Prabhtej applied for a beer manufacturing licence. A brewery was set up in Durg, Chhattisgarh, which was commissioned in 2014. The Bhatia cousins first started manufacturing for British brewer SABMiller, which was later acquired by Budweiser-maker Anheuser-Busch InBev. Simba’s first beer was launched in 2016 in Chhattisgarh. The contract with SABMiller ended in 2018 when the company started manufacturing only for itself.
The USP is craft beer, the fastest-growing segment in the Indian beer market according to Research and Markets. The share of beer consumption in India rose from 45% to 49% between 2013 and 2018, says another report by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.
Simba Beer expanded into Himachal Pradesh and Punjab and added two new breweries last year. The company also widened its network in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh and launched its own canning line. It now plans to go deeper, with new facilities coming up in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu.
The company is also looking to go beyond beers . “We don’t want to be limited by one segment... We want to take that and start building a larger play in the alcohol category,” says Prabhtej. As far as the beer brand is concerned, the aim is to be present in 22 states within the next five years and foray into global markets.
The pandemic may have dealt a body blow to the alcoholic beverages industry, but Simba Beer has continued to expand. As supply chains got disrupted during Covid, the company decided to increase capacity and entered into contract manufacturing tie-ups in the Northeast and South. “This will help us scale faster,” says Prabhtej.